Adi's review (on McDuffie's board)
Paul Cornell's review
Both are well-informed, insightful reactions to and critiques of the movie - even though I don't completely agree with them.
Casino Royale was a different kind of movie, in my opinion, and it's inspired a somewhat different kind of review from me. Among other things, I'll talk about my thoughts and feelings from before, during, and after having seen this flick. Hopefully, it'll be worth a read.
Before I saw Casino Royale - even before I'd heard anything about its content or intent - I heard about the casting of Daniel Craig as Pierce Brosnan's apparent replacement. What I knew of James Bond had everything to do with coolness, seduction, intelligence, and gadgetry. I expected Craig's presence, which I was familiar with from Layer Cake (due to my girlfriend's taste and influence), to preclude at least half of those elements.
"Surely," I thought, "this will be the first Bond film, in the past several years, that I pass up completely."
With Brosnan around, Bond casting seemed a no-brainer. After all, Bond was a natural evolution from the suave, debonaire, lying-ass Remington Steele. Brosnan could perform half-asleep and still earn his paycheck.
Hell, I literally learned the *word,* "debonaire" from Brosnan's 1980 television series with Stephanie Zimbalist. What could Mr. Craig have to teach me?
With Daniel Craig's casting, I'm sure Bond fans around the world collectively sighed with dismay.
...except, perhaps, for those who already knew what I had yet to discover: Casino Royale was not TRYING to present us with the Bond we knew from the silver screen.
This, apparently, would be the Bond from Ian Fleming's novels - which were completely unknown to me, even by reputation. Reportedly, though, the tone of the novels was quite different, somehow, from that of the Bond movies that had been produced in my adult life.
I didn't know what this meant about Bond's future, but it made me far more receptive to whatever changes they might make. Why? I guess that, once again, it comes down to expectations:
If they were trying to "replace" the uber-handsome Bond I knew with the duck-billed platypus to-come, then the filmmakers were screw-ups whose work didn't deserve my patronage.
IF, however, they were trying to go in a completely different direction - one that was validated over half a century, ago, by the source material - then they clearly knew more than I. Perhaps I had something to learn from Mr. Craig and company, after all.
During the movie, I found myself in an oddly anticipatory state - somewhere between high expectations and a preparedness to stop-drop-and-cringe.
The movie begins with a bit of suspense and intrigue. Immediately, we're told that this James Bond is, in fact, NOT a 007 - whatever that means (at least according to the on-screen character).
Ahh, so this is a "reboot." They're starting things over, again. Getting back to basics.
Then, we're given a very revealing glimpse of this Bond's character.
Next, there's a chase scene - something with which we are all familiar. A stake-out that results in James Bond chasing a bad guy. We get to see Craig's (and therefore Bond's) athleticism or lack thereof.
I wasn't terribly disappointed. In fact, despite Mr. Cornell's review (linked above), this scene was *very* "Batman Begins"-like. I mean that in a good way.
As the movie progresses, we see that this Bond is a slightly more complex and inherently flawed character than his most immediate predecessors and iterations.
In fact, this seemed to be a deliberate part of the deconstruction of the man we knew as "007." In fact, I submit that this film is as much a deconstruction as it is a reboot - though some may find that phrasing rather oxymoronic.
Even the storytelling is a departure from the formulaic. Villains are familiar and, yet, very unfamiliar. The women, and Bond's reactions to them, are similarly dissimilar. Even the threat is on a distinctly different level than one might expect.
That said, many of the scenes in this movie are intense.
These highly capable actors disappeared into their intensely layered roles in ways that mega-stars frequently find to be all but impossible.
I started off watching Daniel Craig's version of Ian Fleming's James Bond.
Within minutes, I was simply watching James Bond.
After having sat through two and a half hours of the latest Bond flick, I should have been fatigued - more than ready to retire for the evening. In fact, I was intellectually and emotionally energized.
This film took its time and so, I, as an audience member, took my time digesting it and immersing myself within its story. By the time it was over, I was aware that I'd been in the theater for so long, but, like an alcoholic who embraces the bender, but by-passes the hangover, I emerged unscathed and ready for more.
I'm actually ready for a sequel. In the meantime, I'm seriously considering watching THIS movie, again.
I wasn't aware that so many people were bothered by the transformation of the James Bond franchise into a car-whoring, gadget-fashioning, style-over-substance sideshow.
The conversations I've had since viewing this fantastic movie have opened my eyes to the trappings of the previous Bond flicks - many of which I enjoyed. This film embraced the best of them without becoming infected by the worst.
I highly recommend this movie and I hope that, if and when you see it, you'll return and tell me how very right ... or very wrong, I was about it.